Francis Preston Blair

Francis Preston Blair

Blair, Francis Preston, 1791-1876, American journalist and politician, b. Abingdon, Va. Through the Frankfort, Ky., journal Argus of Western America, which he edited with Amos Kendall, Blair was an ardent supporter of Andrew Jackson. At William T. Barry's suggestion, he traveled to Washington and established the Washington (D.C.) Globe in Dec., 1830, which exerted great political influence as the Jacksonian "court journal" until 1841. Along with Kendall, Blair also was one of the leading members of the Kitchen Cabinet. In Washington he also founded the Congressional Globe (now the Congressional Record ), in which the daily proceedings of Congress were recorded. When James K. Polk became President, Blair, a Van Buren Democrat, was forced to sell his interest in the Washington Globe to Thomas Ritchie. Later, because of his antislavery views, Blair was one of the founders of the Republican party, and he presided over its first national convention in 1856. In 1865 he engineered the futile Hampton Roads Peace Conference. An influential adviser to President Lincoln during the early years of the Civil War, he eventually returned to the Democratic party because he was opposed to radical Republicanism.

See W. E. Smith, The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics (1933); A. M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (1945); B. J. Hendrick, Lincoln's War Cabinet (1946).

Blair, Francis Preston, 1821-75, American political leader and Union general in the Civil War, b. Lexington, Ky., son of Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876). A St. Louis lawyer, Blair led the Free-Soil party in Missouri in 1848, served as state legislator (1852-56), and as Congressman (1857-59; June, 1860; 1861-62). In Congress he attacked slavery as harmful to the interests of poor whites and became an energetic Lincoln supporter in 1860. Instrumental in keeping Missouri loyal to the Union by seizing, with Nathaniel Lyon, secessionist Camp Jackson and the U.S. arsenal early in 1861, he was appointed major general of volunteers (Nov., 1862) and served in the Vicksburg, Chattanooga, and Atlanta campaigns. After the Civil War, Blair was denied political preferment by the radical Republicans and in 1868 ran for Vice President on the unsuccessful Democratic ticket with Horatio Seymour. He helped overthrow the radicals in Missouri in 1870 and was elected to the state legislature, which, in turn, sent him to the U.S. Senate (1871-73).

See W. E. Smith, The Francis Preston Blair Family in Politics (1933); B. J. Hendrick, Lincoln's War Cabinet (1946).

Francis Preston Blair, Jr. (February 19, 1821July 9, 1875) was an American politician and Union Army general during the American Civil War. He represented Missouri in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and he was the Democratic Party's nominee for Vice President in 1868.

Early life and career

Blair was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He was the son of Francis Preston Blair and the brother of Montgomery Blair. He was also the cousin of B. Gratz Brown. He attended schools in Washington, D.C., graduated from Princeton University in 1841, and studied law at Transylvania University. After his admission to the bar in Lexington, he went on to practice in St. Louis in 1842.

Blair participated in the Mexican-American War and was appointed attorney general for the New Mexico Territory after it was secured by General Stephen W. Kearny. A personal and political friend of Thomas Hart Benton, he became known for his views opposing slavery. He also was an outspoken Free-Soiler and was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1852. He was defeated in 1858 but reelected in 1860. In Congress, he served as chairman of the important Military Affairs Committee.

Civil War

Immediately after South Carolina's secession in December 1860, Blair, believing that the southern leaders were planning to carry neutral Missouri into the movement, began active efforts to prevent it and personally organized and equipped a secret body of 1000 men formed out of the paramilitary Wide Awakes organization to be ready for the emergency. When hostilities became inevitable, acting in conjunction with Captain (later General) Nathaniel Lyon, he suddenly transferred the arms in the Federal arsenal at St Louis to Alton, Illinois. A few days later (May 10, 1861), Federal troops surrounded and captured a force of state guards which had been stationed at Camp Jackson in the suburbs of St Louis with the intention of seizing the arsenal. This action gave the Federal cause a decisive initial advantage in Missouri but also inflamed secessionist sentiments in the state due to the subsequent St. Louis Massacre.

Blair was promoted brigadier general of volunteers in August 1862 and then to major general in November. He commanded the 1st Brigade, which consisted of the 13th Illinois Infantry, the 29th, 30th, 31st, and 32nd Missouri Infantries, the 58th Ohio Infantry, 4th Company, Ohio Light Artillery, and Company C, 10th Missouri Cavalry.

In the US Army, he commanded a division in the Vicksburg campaign and in the fighting about Chattanooga, and was one of William T. Sherman's corps commanders in the final campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas.

Postbellum activities

At the close of the war, Blair, having spent much of his private fortune in support of the Union, was financially ruined. In 1866 like his father and brother he opposed the Congressional Reconstruction policy, and on that issue left the Republican Party. He was the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for vice president in 1868, running with Horatio Seymour. In 1871 Blair was chosen by the Missouri Legislature as a United States Senator, but he was defeated for reelection in 1873. During the same year he was stricken with paralysis, from which he never recovered. Blair died from a fall on July 9, 1875.

In 1899, the state of Missouri donated a marble statue of Blair to the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection.

See also


External links

Retrieved on 2008-02-12

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